Kerala

Congress intensifies protest against the LDF government following the SFI attack on Rahul Gandhi's office

Rahul Gandhi MP’s office attacked in Wayanad

Rahul Gandhi MP’s office attacked in Wayanad | Photo Credit: E.M.MANOJ

Congress seemed poised to up the ante in the tense stand-off with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] in the politically turbulent aftermath of the Students Federation of India (SFI) attack on the All India Congress Committee (AICC) leader Rahul Gandhi's regional office at Kalpettah in Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency on Friday.

The violent incident's political reverberations echoed across the country for the second day on Saturday, with Youth Congress workers laying siege to the CPI(M) national headquarters at AKG Bhavan in New Delhi. It also drew across-the-board censure from leaders across the country.

Widespread condemnation

Kerala Governor Arif Muhammad Khan denounced the attack in New Delhi. "We are a rule of the law society. Nobody has the right to indulge in violence. Such action runs against the grain of democracy", he said.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Mallika Arjun Kharge, the Opposition Leader in the Rajya Sabha, and Union Minister of State for External Affairs, V. Muralidharan, decried the incident.

Mr. Gandhi has not reacted to the attack. Congress sources said he was likely to visit Wayanad on June 30.

BJP's take

Mr. Muralidharan denied Congress's allegation that the CPI(M) had vandalised the MP's office to favour BJP's national leadership. He said the Congress-CPI(M) feud showed that the so-called emerging national opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rule was a chimaera.

CPI's stance

CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran criticised the SFI's action. He said that all parties involved in the current fracas should exercise restraint. Mr. Rajendran said he did not see any logic in Congress's bid to link the attack to the Enforcement Directorate's interrogation of Rahul Gandhi. "That is because of his (Rahul's) own doing", he said. CPI State secretary K. Prakash urged the CPI(M) to reign in the SFI.

CPI(M) position

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury deemed the Congress protest in New Delhi unmerited. He told reporters in the capital that the CPI(M) and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had condemned the incident. The government had removed the officer responsible for law and order in the Kalpetta sub-division from his post pending an investigation. The police had arrested the perpetrators. A high-level enquiry was on. "The CPI(M) did not besiege the AICC office when youth congress workers sought to attack Mr. Vijayan in an aircraft", he said.

Tension in Wayanad

The police have deployed in strength in Wayanad, fearing street violence. They have also stepped up security around Congress and CPI(M) offices in the State amidst an intelligence forecast that the spillover effect of the Wayanad incident could cause inter-party strife and law and order disturbances in other regions. Congress is also organising a mammoth protest march in Kalpetta on Saturday afternoon.

19 SFI activists arrested

The police arrested 19 SFI activists in connection with the incident. A judicial magistrate in Wayanad remanded them in judicial custody for 14 days.

Congress to escalate protests

Leader of the Opposition, V. D. Satheeshan, told reporters in Wayanad that the Congress would protest the attack in the Legislative Assembly when it convenes on Monday.

Congress has also planned an Assembly march to the Legislature.

Mr. Satheeshan said the attack on Rahul Gandhi's office was the tipping point. It was the latest series of CPI(M) orchestrated violence against Congress workers and party offices. He alleged that the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) plotted the attacks. "The CMO send attackers into the opposition leader's official residence at Cantonment House. It later coerced the police to let off the trespassers with minor charges", he said.

CPI(M) workers had waylaid Congress workers. They attacked Congress offices in retaliation for demanding an enquiry into the allegations of ministerial misconduct raised against Mr. Vijayan by a former UAE consulate employee and a prime suspect in the diplomatic baggage gold smuggling case.

Youth Congress to boycott health minister

Youth Congress State president Shafi Parambil alleged that an SFI activist who served on the staff of Health Minister Veena George had led the attack. (The person under a cloud of suspicion had recently left the minister's office for personal reasons.)

The Youth Congress would not allow Ms. George to move around the State freely. Activists will boycott her functions and stage black flag protests in her presence.

Ms. George said she would investigate the charge raised by Mr. Parambil. The government had condemned the violence.

SFI condemns attack

SFI State president K. Anushree decried the Wayanad incident. "SFI workers have every right to protest the MP's apathy towards the buffer zone issue that threatened to upend the lives of thousands of settler farmers in Wayanad. The protest went out of hand and resulted in violence. The SFI cannot condone the incidents. Action is underway against the perpetrators.", she said.

CPI(M) State committee meets

The CPI(M) State committee is meeting at the AKG Centre here. The Wayanad incident is on the top of the party's agenda.


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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 8:14:14 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/congress-intensifies-protest-against-the-ldf-government-following-the-sfi-attack-on-rahul-gandhis-office/article65563838.ece